JIM CHALMERS MP
MEMBER FOR RANKIN
SUNDAY, 28 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: Neighbour Day; Morrison Government’s JobKeeper cuts will cut jobs; Reported sophisticated cyber-attack on Australian media organisation.
JIM CHALMERS, SHADOW TREASURER: Today is Neighbour Day right around Australia. We're at the Logan East Community Neighbourhood Association, one of the many organisations, right around this country, marking Neighbour Day. It’s a really important day, to pay tribute to the connections that we make with each other over the back fence and in the driveways of our neighbourhoods. Today is also the day that Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg cut JobKeeper.
For too many Australians, the end of JobKeeper will be the end of their job. Today Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg are deliberately leaving a million Australians in the lurch, and leaving them behind. This is the day that Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg turn their backs on a million Australians that are still doing it tough, in an economy which is not yet ready to stand on its own two feet.
Workers and small businesses, industries and communities, right around this country, have been on life support and Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg today are pulling the plug. For all of those workers, all of those communities, and industries, all of those small businesses, which are still on life support, this Morison Government is today pulling the plug.
We don't want to see a million Australians put in this position by the government, which is deliberately leaving so many people behind, and so many people in the lurch. The future of JobKeeper was in the government's hands, so any job losses which flow from this decision are on their heads. Every job loss which comes as a consequence of this decision today has Josh Frydenberg’s name on it.
Josh Frydenberg needs to explain to a million Australians why he sprayed hundreds of millions of dollars around on businesses that didn't need JobKeeper, at the same time as he says he can’t afford to support people who still need help. He needs to explain to all of those Australians at risk of losing their job, why businesses that didn't need JobKeeper got it, at the same time as people who still need help are not getting it beyond today. Hundreds of millions of dollars for profitable businesses. Not a cent for the workers and small businesses who still need help in an ongoing way, because of those international border closures, because of social distancing, and other necessary restrictions.
What Josh Frydenberg doesn't understand, is today isn't about people who don't need JobKeeper anymore, it’s about the people that still do. Treasury has said something like 100,000 or 150,000 Australians could lose their job as a consequence of the government's decision to end JobKeeper. We hope that that isn't the case. The government says that JobKeeper can't go on forever, nobody is arguing that is the case. We’re not saying it needs to go on forever for everyone, but what we are saying is that there are many businesses, and many workers in this country, who still need JobKeeper support, and should have it extended in a responsible, temporary, and targeted fashion.
So today is all about those Australians left in the lurch and left behind by this Morison Government. A government which is incapable of understanding what life is like for those million Australians on JobKeeper, some of which are having a very anxious day today, as they wonder whether their jobs will be there at the end. For too many Australians the end of JobKeeper will be the end of their jobs. That will be on Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg's head.
There's one other issue I've been asked to cover, an issue about a substantial cyber attack. These are very concerning reports of a serious, sophisticated and targeted cyber attack. We need to hear more about what's happened here, it's not useful to speculate beyond saying this: these are very concerning reports. What we're hearing about here is a serious, and sophisticated, targeted attack on a media organisation. We need to hear more about what's happened here, but it's a serious issue. I won't be speculating further until we know more.
JOURNALIST: Obviously we knew that JobKeeper was coming to an end for quite a while, have these people not had enough time, people who are going to be affected, have they not have enough time to sort of reskill or look to other areas?
CHALMERS: It's been clear for some time that a lot of workers in this country are not yet ready to have their JobKeeper payments cut. The small businesses, and industries, and communities of this country have been warning Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg for some months, that cutting JobKeeper today will have diabolical consequences for workers and small businesses, and the jobs that people rely on to feed their loved ones. It has been abundantly clear for some time, that for some industries, and some communities, some workers and small businesses, the government's been in too much of a rush to cut JobKeeper We will see the consequences of that in the coming weeks and months. Any job lost as a consequence of the government's decision to cut JobKeeper will be on their heads. They've known for some time. They've been warned by Treasury, and by industry and others, about the potentially diabolical consequences of cutting this payment. They have been warned. They've ignored those warnings. And we don't want to see jobs lost as a consequence of this decision, but many people are expecting that they will be.
JOURNALIST: JobKeeper can't go on forever, what's the alternative to cancelling it?
CHALMERS: What we need to see here is a responsible, and temporary, and targeted extension of the JobKeeper payment. For those million Australians, or the 100,000 to 150,000 that the Treasury expects to lose their jobs, then obviously this weekend is too soon to cut JobKeeper. For too many Australians, the end of JobKeeper means the end of their jobs. Any government which truly cared about jobs, and workers, and small businesses, and communities, and industries, doing it tough wouldn't be cutting JobKeeper today.
JOURNALIST: As you say, targeted. Obviously, international tourism has been cut. So that's one sector, obviously, still needing a helping hand. But there's other places, like hospitality, they're booming, they're struggling to find workers. So how do we fix it when, you know, so much of the economy is going so well?
CHALMERS: Look, we want the economy to do well and we want jobs created. We want people to keep their jobs. And when we get pleasing developments on the jobs front, we say so. But it remains the case that two million Australians can't find a job or can't find enough hours to support their loved ones. One million Australians, as I said, on JobKeeper. 100,000 to 150,000, the Treasury says, may lose their job as a consequence of this decision. So today is not about those who don't need JobKeeper anymore. It's about the many Australians who still do. And what we want to see for them, what we've wanted to see for some time, is JobKeeper tailored to what's actually going on in real communities, like Cairns, like parts of Tasmania, and other parts of Australia.
Never forget that the government said that JobKeeper would end in March, on the basis that they would have four million vaccinations away, and there'd be more progress on international borders. And what we've seen instead, is a government which only gets away a tiny fraction of the vaccinations they promised, at the same time as they're delivering 100% of the JobKeeper cuts. By the end of the month, the government said there'd be four million vaccinations and the end of JobKeeper. The only commitment that they're keeping is to end JobKeeper - vaccinations are well short. We've got a whole range of uncertainty in the economy. Subsequent outbreaks, slow rollout of the vaccine, international developments, a whole range of issues, which the government is deliberately ignoring in their rush to cut this JobKeeper payment. Rushing to cut the JobKeeper payment is a rush to cut people's jobs. Thanks very much.